Build It And They Will ComeIt's been a little over a year since I began the Facebook group, The Secret Lives of White Collar Wives. It has taken time and much hard, (but rewarding), work to obtain a searchable presence on Google and elsewhere on the internet where women can find me and finally receive the support they have desperately been looking for. As they say, "build it and they will come". And come, they have. I have been able to make my vision of establishing a supportive community of white collar wives a reality.
The first thing I usually hear from the women who reach out to me is this: "For years I searched the internet looking for some kind of support but found nothing. I felt so alone. Lisa, I'm so glad to have found you and this group." There was a time when I too was afraid and alone and desperately wanted to find other white collar wives to share this horrific experience with but found nothing. I knew there were many women like me who were/are too afraid and ashamed to surface so I went in search of them and we are finally connecting. I am so grateful for the brave women who have come out of hiding because without them I too would be alone in my experience of recovery.
Being in a community of other white collar wives means that we can finally lessen the load of family and friends who have walked this long path with us. We have a place now where we can lay our burdens at the feet of others who know what it means to be a white collar wife/ex-wife. When asked by "civilians", "how are you doing?", there finally comes a time when we simply must put on a happy face and say, "fine, thanks for asking" while suffering in silence because to burden others with our constant stress and worry is asking too much of them. The wheels of justice turn oh so slowly and the process of recovery takes years, (if ever), and it becomes difficult to not only continue to ask for help from family and friends but to have them bear painful witness to our ongoing plight. To have a community of women who truly understand, do not judge, offer support and words of wisdom in a safe environment who are always there 24/7 is perhaps as therapeutic an environment as one could ask for. Peer support is vital in coping with and recovering from acute trauma no matter what the subject matter.
Before entering our group I perform a quick interview to authenticate that the woman I'm speaking with is actually a white collar wife as we are understandably a bit paranoid. I can identify a fellow survivor even before I begin the formal process of gaining the merits of her husband's case simply by the language she uses. Takes one to know one. Every time I speak with a potential member I hear yet another grim tale of a family being disrupted and in many cases dismembered not only by the criminal conduct of her husband but the painful experiences most of us have endured of guilt by association; both legally as well as socially. Some of the women in the group are in the beginning stages of dealing with the great unknown of the investigative process while others are in the thick of it, neck deep in the legal throws of did he or didn't he?, (mostly, he did), or just beginning, in the middle of or ending the incarceration phase. Some women are long past the events that led to the incarceration of their husbands and now feel the need to poke the last burning embers of their former lives that are still hot to the touch in hopes of rekindling them, if only for a moment with those who understand. As a writer, speaker, life coach, mentor, and group facilitator, (I have also facilitated groups of women who were enduring or recovering from domestic violence), I understand how vital peer support is. Hiding ourselves within our own grim history is understandable however there can be no healing without an affirmation that "this is what happened and this is what it's done to me/my family, my soul, my life. Some of the women's circumstances are more horrific than others but each is compelling and the end result the same in that families and finances are obliterated and husbands go off to prison as wives and children hide in the shadows, broken and alone to pick up the pieces of their mangled lives. There really are monsters hiding under the bed and that it turns out to be daddy is as chilling as it is heartbreaking.
In sharing our fragmented lives we are able to clean out the dark places and let a bit of light in. As the esteemed songwriter/performer LEONARD COHEN wrote in "Anthem": There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." If you
are now or at some point were a white collar wife, you are indeed cracked and in much need of light. If you don't seek help, likely none will find you. The peer group model is truly effective and I encourage all white collar wives to seek help in this supportive and healing community.
If you would like to receive more information about the group or private mentoring information please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for an interview.
You are not alone.